A plastic surgeon in California logged into his traffic court hearing via Zoom while in the middle of a surgery, prompting a frazzled judge to reschedule for another day when there wasn't a patient on the operating table.
At least twice in a video recording of the hearing, Dr. Scott Green tries to assure the court in Sacramento that he is willing and able to go ahead with it despite the fact that he is in the middle of a surgery, with operating lights beaming, medical equipment beeping, and other medical personnel in blue scrubs milling around the room.
When the courtroom's clerk asks Green if he is available for the hearing, he replies, "I am, sir. I'm in an operating room. I'm available for trial. Go right ahead."
The bizarre exchange on Thursday was first reported by the Sacramento Bee, which posted a video of the livestreamed hearing.
Because of social distancing measures enacted across the country to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, courts have made use of videoconferencing calls to handle cases. That has led to odd, comical, and, at times, inappropriate exchanges in the halls of justice. One of the most famous instances occurred earlier this month when an attorney appeared on Zoom for a hearing as a cat after he was unable to remove a filter. Last year in April, a Florida judge issued a stern warning to lawyers after he said some of them were appearing shirtless, in bed, or poolside during court hearings.
But on Thursday, Green's virtual appearance in court with a patient laid out on an operating table just out of view drew concern from Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link.
"Unless I'm mistaken, I'm seeing a defendant that is in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient," Link said. "Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?"
"Yes, sir," Green responded as medical equipment whirled and beeped in the background.
"I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient, if you're in the process of operating, that I could put on a trial, notwithstanding the fact that the officer is here today," Link said.
However, Green assured the court that he was willing to proceed.
"I have another surgeon right here with me who is doing the surgery with me, so I can stand here and allow them to do the surgery also," Green insisted.
"Not at all. I don't think so," the judge responded. "I don't think that's appropriate. I'm going to come up with a different date when you're not actively involved or participating in attending to the needs of a patient."
Link set up a new date for the trial, but the hearing also caught the attention of the Medical Board of California, which told BuzzFeed News it is reviewing the incident.
"The Medical Board of California (Board) expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients," a spokesperson said. "The Board is aware of this incident and will be looking into it, as it does with all complaints it receives."
According to a website for his clinic, Green is a certified plastic surgeon with offices in Sacramento and Granite Bay, and he offers in-person or virtual consultations.
He did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment.